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Lafayette, Louisiana is known as a profoundly catholic community and has been ever since the 1700s when French settlers first arrived at the area and commenced constructing places of worship. Locals express an idea that priests are revered leaders and are somehow connected to Christ on earth. Sad to say, this kind of reverence for the church and priests permitted Reverend Gilbert Gauthe along with other priests to take advantage of young boys and use them for their own deviant pleasures. His story is thought to be one of the first sex abuse controversies and served as the catalyst for exposing years or abuse and coverups.
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As soon as Gauthe first arrived in the area in the 1970s, mothers and fathers didn’t think to question his involvement in children. They presumed that he was acting in good faith as a leader and advisor who would see after their children’s spiritual upbringing. However, there were clear signs that something wasn’t quite right; He held 6 a.m. practices for altar boys, often held sleepovers at the rectory, placed bars on his windows and slept with a gun next to his bed. Sound fishy to you? Over the coming decade, he continued to target and use boys and the Bishop Harry Flynn did nothing about preliminary grievances from children. Eventually, after more allegations, Gauthe was relocated to Henry, Louisiana where he was basically presented with a whole new church of victims from which to choose.
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In 1983, a young boy informed his parents about what Gauthe had been up to and Gauthe was sent away for psychological treatment. A small price to pay for such crimes. The church made an effort to keep the story quiet by offering nine families settlements that would have amounted to over $4 million. Luckily, one family refused to accept the hush money and went public with the case. Ultimately, Gauthe admitted to abusing more than 300 kids and he was sentenced to 20 years in jail, but the scandal didn’t stop there.
As soon as communities throughout Louisiana knew that the Catholic church had knowingly covered up Gauthe’s abuse and made it possible for him to remain to serve, they started to question just how widespread the issue had been and whether other abusers have been taken care of with the same light hand. Records are still being revealed that illustrate that the church had moved problem priests among various parishes when molestation allegations arose. At first, Harry Flynn was praised for his measures in the Gauthe case, but his misleading methods that allowed abuse to continue were finally exposed. It is gut wrenching to read about these claims. However, if we are going to prevent this from happening to other kids in the future, we have to face facts.
Even now, the Catholic sex abuse scandal continues to unravel and the Vatican is having difficulties with how to accept and compensate victims while also dealing with a systemic problem that infects the entire organization. Regrettably enough, the Gilbert Gauthe case was simply the first of many frightening cases that rocked the Catholic church and shook the faith of even the most devout Christians.
Priest Sexual Abuse Lawyers Louisiana